Experts recommend that we eat dates every day. Let’s find out what makes dates so special.
Dates boost energy
They are high in calories, which helps people suffering from severe fatigue and convalescence. About 72 – 80 per cent of the dry matter in dates is sugar, especially glucose and fructose. This makes them a high-energy food, ideal for breaking a fast. Usually, when we fast, there is a dip in our blood sugar levels, which the natural sugars balance. When the normal blood sugar levels get restored, the feeling of hunger gets satisfied. This avoids overeating after fasting.
Dates beat anaemia
Most often, anaemia [in pregnant women and children] is caused by iron deficiency. They contain a good amount of non-haeme iron [7.3mg/100g], which is good for compensating the iron deficiency. However, the iron is difficult absorb by the body. To facilitate absorption, drink lemon or orange juice after having dates.
Strengthens the nervous system
Dates are used to treat low serum potassium levels. Potassium is an essential mineral needed to maintain muscle contraction and smooth functioning of heart muscles. Recent research on high blood pressure, has shown that potassium lowers blood pressure and sodium increases it. Since they have a higher amount of potassium and low levels of sodium, they are a wise option for hypertensive patients.
Since dates are rich in soluble fibres, they are considered a natural laxative. The Beta-D-glucan fibre present binds water easily and increases roughage, facilitating bowel movements and preventing constipation. For best results, deseed the dates and soak them in water [overnight]. Have them along with the soaked water next morning.
Helps pregnant women
Dates are rich in folic acid, and hence recommended for pregnant women. Ripe dates contain a substance, which resembles the hormone oxytocin [a neurohormone released to stimulate uterine contractions]. In addition, it also initiates the secretion of breast milk. The potassium, glycine and threonine help the secretion of milk as these nutrients trigger the production of prolactin [milk hormone].
Prevents damage by free radicals
Dates contain antioxidants—polyphenols and tannins [responsible for the dark brown colour of dates]. The polyphenols in it play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Among the most alkaline foods, date extract may be able to prevent free radical damage to fats and proteins.
How to eat them
Here are some suggestions on including dates in your diet:
- Add chopped dates to breakfast cereals like cornflakes and oats to make it tasty and nutritious.
- Stuff dry fruits like cashew, almonds, pistachios into deseeded dates and have for dessert.
- Add dates syrup to milk, or use it as a spread in breads and chapatti.
- Have dates chutney as a side dish for pulav and parathas.